Madeleine McGraw, 12, is quickly making a name for herself as one of the most-watched young stars with her starring role as ‘Zoey Campbell’ on the Disney Channel series “Secrets of Sulphur Springs.” She will also take the big screen in the upcoming thriller for Blumhouse, “The Black Phone,” slated for release this month.
We recently chatted with McGraw, who is originally from San Jose and started acting and modeling at age 4, about being a young working actor in L.A. – the fun and the challenges.
Tell us a little about what it’s like to play Zoey on Secrets of Sulphur Springs. Most fun parts? Most challenging parts?
Playing Zoey on Secrets of Sulphur Springs is really fun. First of all, I get to hang out with my real-life best friend every day, (Landon Gordon- He plays my twin Wyatt) and we truly have the best time together, on and off screen. This is also the first show I have done where I am with kids my own age. This past season, Landon, Elle and I had a lot of pool time. I have the greatest cast mates ever.
I think the most challenging part is trying not to laugh during takes. Landon is one of the funniest people I know, and sometimes just looking at him makes me burst out laughing.
Who influenced you the most to pursue acting?
Nobody influenced me actually. I started in modeling and my manager at the time thought I should try acting. So, she sent me out on auditions. Not long after, I started booking commercials and then I booked my first big role playing Bradley Cooper’s daughter in “American Sniper.” I was hooked. I loved everything about it. The people, the atmosphere, just being on set. It was all so magical.
When did you move to L.A.?
I moved to L.A. 6 years ago. My mom used to drive us to L.A. and back the same day, 5 sometimes 6 days a week for over 2 years. I have three siblings and they all act as well. So my mom was constantly going back and forth and being pulled in multiple directions. Once we finally moved, I really missed those long car rides. My mom has a way of making things special. Being in the car all day could be awful for some, but not for us. My mom always had a great play list or movies for us to watch, but first we would have catch up time and homework time and talk about the auditions we were heading to. I still miss those drives. It was always like we were on an adventure not knowing what the future held. They were exciting times.
What do you like most about living in L.A.?
I like living in L.A. because I am close to Disneyland. We are a Disney family. We usually have annual passes and go up to 5 or 6 times a month. My favorite rides are The Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy and I love Rise of the Resistance.
What advice would you give to other young people your age who are interested in pursuing a career in acting?
The best advice I would give, is to make sure you run your own race. You can have people you look up to, but know that everyone’s race looks different. I think hard work, thick skin and keeping your instrument tuned are all things that can help you move on to the next step. No’s are just a part of the business and the sooner you realize that, the easier it all gets.
What is the best part of being a child actor? What is the most challenging part?
The best part about being a child actor for me, is the experiences I get to have. I meet new people and travel to different places. It’s very cool. I have made some of my best friends from acting.
The most challenging part is doing school while working and missing my soccer practices and games. I love soccer as much as I love acting and am so thankful my club team is so supportive of my acting.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Like I mentioned previously, I enjoy soccer. It’s a sport that has really been there for me. I pass up auditions sometimes if it impedes on my soccer time. My team is also incredible!!! I love them all so much. Our coach is so great at cultivating such strong relationships between us girls. I love every second I get to be on the field.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from your parents?
My parents have always told me that running my own race is key. Never compare myself to someone else. We are all different and that’s what makes everybody’s story so interesting.
Tell us some of your favorite spots in L.A. that you enjoy with your family and friends.
I love going to The Grove for shopping and walking around. Especially during the holidays, it’s extra magical. Starbucks is always a favorite, especially between auditions. I love going to get a sandwich at Fat Sal’s in Hollywood. I love the Fat Breakfast. Oh my goodness, it’s soooo good! I would live at the beach if I could. We don’t make it there as much as I would like, but when we do, I take full advantage. I also love grabbing ice cream at Salt & Straw on Larchmont. Incredible ice cream. I love their cookie dough the best!